Recently TPA (no it’s not TIA) asked their social media followers for the tips THEY give friends flying to or from Tampa. We’re pretty lucky. People generally love Tampa International Airport. Compared to other airports around the country, it’s so easy to get in and out of. Flights are usually on time. There are good food options. It’s easy to find parking. You never realize how good we have it than when you are flying BACK to Tampa.

But as good as we have it, those who fly through Tampa International often have their own unique pieces of advice to make your travel day easier. Some of these I was aware of, but definitely not all. From tips on where to eat to where not to use the bathroom, these are some life hacks that will make your airport visit a little easier.

If you have another I can add to this list, drop me a line at [email protected] or leave it on my Facebook page.

  • BOOKING

    Lauren Castro: Don’t books flight between 2-6pm during summer months in/out of TPA. It WILL be delayed due to storms.
    100% accurate. It’s not the airport’s fault. Blame Mother Nature. As much as I hate getting up early for a flight during vacation, this is solid advice for summer travel. Not only does the weather cause delays, it makes take off and landing bumpy and stressful.  Plus morning flights leave little chance for delays.

  • AFTER YOU GET OFF THE PLANE

    Stacey Fager-Phillips: Use the 2nd or 3rd bathroom after you get off the plane….the 1st one you see will always be busier.
    Listen if ya gotta go, ya gotta go. But Stacey’s advice is on point. That first bathroom is always going to be packed. Second one will be nearly empty.

  • ARRIVING AT THE AIRPORT

    Nikki Spencer: When you arrive to your destination, to lessen your wait in being picked up, go to the departures side.
    Definitely have used this one. Most departures happen in the morning. Most arrivals happen in the evening. This is a common sense piece of advice that I don’t see used commonly! You always see security getting on the case of drivers sitting idle waiting for a passenger to come out of baggage claim. It causes congestion that you can easily avoid.

    Larry Brown: If you live in Florida, get a SunPass makes getting in and out of the parking garage much faster.
    Good advice, but honestly I don’t think I’ve ever seen the line to get out of a parking garage at Tampa International more than 2 or 3 cars deep. But it does save time. Even better though, prebook your parking and save money.

    Jason D’Onofrio: Ignore the sign saying floor 4 is full in the short term parking lot. I always find a spot even when it says it’s full.
    I didn’t know this one. Good tip!

  • DEPARTURE

    Lisa Wildes: Make sure you use the Blue Express drop-off/pick-up if the traveler only has carry-ons. It doesn’t matter what airline they’re flying.
    Totally. This has been a great addition to the airport and makes you wonder why all airports don’t do this.

  • FOOD

    Katrina M. Raymond: mobile food delivery.
    I haven’t used this service myself. I like to walk around though. I get bored sitting at a terminal gate.

    Jill Taylor Amore: Go hungry- lots of great food choices for pre flight.
    Definitely. You will pay about 20% more for your food than you would elsewhere. It’s a big part of an airport’s revenue. But I will say especially if you get a bite at Columbia Restaurant at the airport, prices are about the same as any walk up fast food option. So get the good stuff!

    Quiana White: If you are landing at TPA around breakfast time it’s 100% worth it to stop by La Segunda on Kennedy for pastries.
    Definitely.

    Jeff Knowles: If you’re flying Delta, Columbia has delicious 1905 salads made and ready to go. If you’re flying American and have Priority Pass through Chase Sapphire, get a free meal for you and a guest at Mise en Place before boarding.
    The 1905 Salad is the only salad that is a meal to me. While it’s not a 100% Ybor experience, Columbia certainly beats the fast food options at the airport. I’m bummed because the card I use USED to offer that free meal at Mise en Place. But I’m good with one of those 1905 salads any day.

  • DRINKS

    David Cates: If you’re not a coffee snob, a cup of Kahwa coffee at the terminal newsstand is cheaper (and a shorter line) than a similar cup at the terminal Starbucks.
    And you’re supporting a small local business when you get Kahwa coffee.

    I’m not a coffee guy, but for early flights, sometimes I’ll grab one. And this is a great point. Especially the part about the line. Starbucks lines at Tampa International seem longer than the line to board. My tip if you’re loyal to Starbucks – order via the app and skip the line entirely. You’ll still have to wait for your coffee, but even though I don’t drink Starbucks often, it’s worth having the app on your phone just to avoid the line.

    Alissa Stringfellow: They start serving sangria at 8am at the Columbia. And you can get it to go. But you can’t take it on the plane so get there with enough time to enjoy your sangria before your flight 🍹
    Alissa – you are a hero.

  • PICKING SOMEONE UP

    Chris Chi: Just don’t wait for anyone at arrivals curbside. Use the cell phone lot.
    Most won’t take this logical advice, but they should. Some just like to get yelled at by security and be forced to circle the airport.

    Park on the 9th floor on the east side and give them a view of the city before you leave.
    Very cool tip. Never thought of that.

    Gail Doheny: We park in short term parking. Take the elevator to meet our company coming off the plane.
    Excellent advice. First hour of parking is free. And again, doing this prevents getting yelled at by security outside baggage claim.

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